Let Goa’s Purple Fest set us on the path to inclusivity

CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud stands as a shining example of embracing society’s stigmatised
The Purple Fest promises great things for the differently abled.
The Purple Fest promises great things for the differently abled.Gomantak Times

 Augusto Rodrigues

Christmas is the time of the year that is supposed to bring joy, fill people with hope and spread happiness around among those who need it most. Happiness is a subjective experience. It differs from person to person, yet it is discernible.

The Purple Fest, which will be held from January 6 to 8, is one such attempt to bring joy into the lives of the disabled and show them that they are indeed part of society.

The fest will see Shankar Mahadevan, one of India’s best musicians in performance – not with his regular musicians, but with underprivileged children selected and being trained for the concert to perform with him. A musical genius exhibiting that humanity exists in the great.

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Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud has taken three days' leave to be part of the festival; to be with the children; to make them feel that India does not differentiate, that having a disability does not make them different, that in the end, we are all human and equal in the eyes of the creator.

Shankar Mahadevan is the epitome of musical excellence, while Justice Chandrachud is the personification of justice, and the two will meet on a platform that is created to celebrate a fest that sends a message to parents that special children have the right to the same air that others breathe; they have the right to try what others do – to play, to enjoy themselves and to live life to the fullest.

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The presence of Chief Justice Chandrachud is of special significance because he has adopted two girls besides his own sons. Plucked out of poverty and an uncertain future, these girls are now being afforded the best in life.

Most importantly, they now have the opportunity to explore their talents. In the Christmas season, it is the mindset of CJI Chandrachud that expounds the best of Christmas carols “Silent Night”.

The Purple Fest being celebrated in Goa has yet to receive the media publicity that it deserves. We are actually celebrating the oneness of all. Now is the time for all of us to think about how we can stretch our hands not to just those who we believe deserve it, but to those we thought, did not.

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Social Welfare Minister Subash Phal Desai seems to be the right man in the right chair because he has a vision past the mundane. Unlike others before him, he not only acknowledges that what was not done needs to be done now and as quickly as possible.

That explains why the social welfare department has started spending the funds earmarked for it and taking infrastructure development to those that need it most or rather first.

Goa still does not have ramps, Braille, talking machines and even normal wheelchairs available. We have been very slow in making constructive changes.

Or perhaps, like many others, we too looked at the differently abled with apathy or maybe contempt. That is the block in our eyes we need to get rid of as we celebrate the Purple Fest in Goa.

As families, we tend to hide from others what is obvious to all and make the ones who need more attention, experience their disability more acutely in a negative manner. It does not help anyone. It makes the sick, sicker and the normal look abnormal.

The Purple Fest is designed to help us remove this blot. The Government of Goa through the Ministry of Social Welfare has plans to make walks designed to suit the differently abled; make beaches accessible to them by purchasing beach wheelchairs so that they can go into the sea and feel the waves splash on them.

This is one of the joys of life that all should be able to experience, and if we are moving in that direction, we still have a long way to go.

The Purple Fest in Goa will hopefully see hundreds of people participating in a festival that intends to unite people and break social stigmas. Life will be much sweeter if we learn to accept each other without question.

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